University of Utah: The rise of ‘Zoom Towns’ in the rural west. “When COVID-19 hit the United States, small towns near ski areas such as Park City, Utah, and Sun Valley, Idaho, experienced some of the highest per capita cases; people from around the world had brought the virus along with their skis. As the coronavirus spread, gateway communities—communities near scenic public lands, national parks, and other outdoor recreational amenities—felt acute economic pressure as the virus forced them to shut down tourist activities. Now, many gateway communities are facing an entirely new problem: a flood of remote workers fleeing big cities to ride out the pandemic, perhaps permanently.”
Bureau of Reclamation: Reclamation launches online tool providing public access to water, power & environmental data . “The Bureau of Reclamation has launched an online tool that makes water, power and environmental data readily available to the public. The Reclamation Information Sharing Environment, also known as RISE, provides searchable data and maps in the West.”
Travel Market Report: New Website Tool Helps Tourists Navigate Regions Affected by Wildfires. “State tourism organizations in California, Oregon, and Washington have rolled out an enhanced website to provide travelers and advisors with up-to-date information about the ongoing wildfires. [The site] now includes webcams and real-time air-quality information at key destinations and multi-state itineraries to inform travelers who may decide to reroute road trips or seek more planning ideas for trips to the West Coast.”
Fairfield Sun Times: World’s largest collection of Will James’ work at risk without preservation. “James died in 1942. The bulk of his possessions, including drawings, manuscripts, letters, paintings, his saddle, and even a pair of walrus skin saddle bags, were left with his longtime friends Earl and Elanora Snook and later gifted to the Yellowstone Art Museum by their daughter, Virginia Snook. But that generous gift came with a huge catch — the collection must remain in Billings, intact.”
University of Arkansas: Libraries Launch Digital Collection on American Old West. “Whiskey smuggling, murder, scandal and a ‘hanging judge’ — the latest digital exhibit from University Libraries has all this and more. The Deputy Marshal Addison Beck and Judge Isaac Parker’s Court collection is now available worldwide, free of charge. Addison Beck was a deputy marshal for the United States from 1875 to 1883 who patrolled for the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith.”
The Ancestor Hunt: Free U.S. Western States High School and College Yearbooks Online. “Yearbooks from high school or college are one of the most fun set of records for a genealogist to search. It provides you with a ton of story-like information about your ancestor’s life. What their interests were, what sports and clubs they participated in, and often some goofy snapshots of them before they settled into being an adult. And of course, you get to see what they looked like.” Big link list.
Slate: How to Track the Wildfires Raging Across the Western U.S. Online. “The Carr fire raging in Shasta County, California has already claimed the lives of six people, with another seven people reported missing. It’s responsible for the destruction of 966 structures, making it the ninth most destructive wildfire in the state’s history according to Cal Fire statistics. While firefighters have gained some ground in Shasta county, according to a Reuters report, there are still more than 60 wildfires that are considered uncontained, mostly concentrated on the western side of the country.”
Washington Post: The disappearing story of the black homesteaders who pioneered the West. “The physical vestiges of these communities are gradually disappearing. No buildings or markers indicate that black homesteaders once lived at Empire in Wyoming or the Sully County Colored Colony in South Dakota. DeWitty, Blackdom and Dearfield have historical markers, nothing more. A project that I head at the University of Nebraska, working with the Homestead National Monument of America (part of the national park system), is dedicated to creating a digital archive to preserve the memory of the black homesteading movement. But there is an urgent need to save the actual places where so many black people, in the decades after the Civil War, toiled to live and prosper in freedom.”
Colorado Virtual Library: CHNC News! Historic African American Newspapers Now Available. “[History Colorado] most recently digitized and added Denver African-American newspapers, the Statesman (1905-1912), and The Denver Star (1912-1918). The Statesman was first published by Joseph D. D. River in 1889. In 1912, The Denver Star began to bill itself as ‘The paper formerly known as the Statesman.’ In 1913, it was noted that ‘the papers formerly known as The Statesman and The Independent, have been merged into The Denver Star.’ While these papers covered news from African-American communities in ‘Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the West’, they also covered local news from Denver’s Five Points district. Five Points, sometimes referred to as the ‘Harlem of the West’ is one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods. These newspapers offer researchers a vast amount of information on Denver’s African American culture and community, including its residents, businesses and aspects of everyday life.”
New on the Texas Digital Archives: An Inventory of the William Deming Hornaday Photograph Collection at the Texas State Archives. “This collection consists of photographs, photographic postcards, photoengravings and negatives amassed by William Deming Hornaday (1868-1942) to accompany the various articles written in his capacity as a journalist and Director of Publicity for the University of Texas. The images were created by a variety of photographers, the names of whom are mostly unknown. Dates covered are about 1890-about 1940, undated. The photographs depict notable people, places, and events across Texas. The collection also portrays a variety of locations outside the contiguous United States, most notably Mexico, Australia, China, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Fiji, and Hawaii.”
University of Arizona: Climate Services Database Now Available for the Western States. “The NOAA Western Region Climate Service Providers Database is a searchable directory of climate service providers in the west that makes climate services easier to find. Its powerful search function allows users to customize their search based on the type of service, the geographic area, stakeholders served, and several additional parameters. It’s a match-making app for the climate world.” If, like me, you’re not 100% clear on what a climate service provider is, you can get a good overview from the AMS.
A new mapping tool shows the location of invasive species in eight western states (about 100 million acres.). “USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the University of Montana and other partners have used Google Earth Engine to build a new interactive online map tool that, for the first time, combines layers of data to better target invasive species that are damaging habitat and rangeland.” It is expected that the mapping tool will expand over time.